Comparison of Energy Gels

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{{DISPLAYTITLE:A comparison of the best energy gels}} __NOTOC__
[[File:Gels.JPG|right|thumb|300px|My supply of gels]]
Energy gels are a useful component of many endurance runners' training and racing. In marathon distance racing, energy gels can make an important difference - [[When to eat Energy Gels in the Marathon| if you know how and when to eat them]]. If you want a really simple guide to which gel to take, try this:* For short runs (<13miles/2hr) don't worry about gels.* For long runs (>30miles/4hours) you probably need more than gels.* [[Caffeine]] is your friend, so unless you're running close to bed time, use it. * Gu is a great all round gel, and the Roctane version is slightly better. * For those suffering from cramps, try eGel (the sour flavor might help.)* If you want more electrolytes, try PowerBar Gel. * Hammer gel is a little easier to digest than Gu. =Which Gel? =The flowchart below is intended to provide some general guidance around which gel to choose. [[File:Energy Gels.jpg|none|thumb|1400px|click for a larger version that's easier to read.]]# Energy gels are easy to digest, but they can spike your blood sugar, so ideally take one within 5 minutes or so of starting the run. I think the Peanut Butter Gu is a good option as it has a little bit of fat and isn't too sweet, but other gels will work well. If you need something more substantial, consider a meal replacement drink like Ensure. # An Accel Gel is a good option as far as gels go, but you're better off with something more substantial like a meal replacement drink (Ensure, etc.) or a chocolate milk. I'd only use Accel Gel if I needed something post run that I had to carry on the run itself. # The time and distances here are broad guidelines. Generally you shouldn't need carbohydrate support for shorter runs, but if you're [[Glycogen]] depleted from a long run, then a Gel might be useful. On ultra-distances, carbs and gels become less important and you start needing more "real food". # [[Caffeine]] can improve performance at all distances, but for shorter distances, it's probably best to take it before the run. Consider a Red Bull or other caffeinated beverage, or even caffeine tablets. I'd avoid coffee as there is evidence that you don't get the same benefit from caffeine when it's in coffee. # A little protein can help offset muscle damage, and so swapping your carbohydrate based gel for an Accel Gel might be good on ultras. However, you should be looking at other fuel sources in an ultra for most of your calories. # [[Caffeine]] can improve performance at all distances, and a gel can be a convenient way of taking it. Note that Caffeine can trigger some digestive problems in some people, and other forms of Caffeine might be easier pre-run. Consider a Red Bull or other caffeinated beverage, or even caffeine tablets. # You can sweat out a lot of sodium when sweating heavily, with estimates as high as 5,000mg/hour in some cases. In those situations, even the 200mg of PowerBar gel is not much, but it may help. The sodium in a PowerBar gel could help augment the limited sodium you would get in most sports drinks. (See [[The Science Of Hydration]] for details.)# There is some evidence that pickle juice can help with [[Cramps]], and that it is the taste rather than the absorption of the pickle juice that helps. Therefore it is possible that the sour, tart flavor of eGels might help deal with cramps. # Reactive hypoglycemia is where consuming carbohydrate causes your blood sugar to rise, and then the resulting insulin release causes a blood sugar crash. This is believed to be quite rare and even rarer during exercise. If you think you suffer from this problem, I would advise you to verify this by checking your [[Blood Glucose]]. The meters are cheap and easy to use. # As well as Hammer gel, consider Carb BOOM or SIS Isotonic gels. # See [[How to eat a Gel]]for details. __NOTOC__
=Gel Ingredients=
Here is an overview of the major ingredients in gels (see [[The Science of Energy Gels| The Science of Energy Gels]] for more details).
* [[Caffeine]] is great for improving performance and speeding the absorption of carbohydrate, but too much can upset the stomach.
* Flavor is important, as you won't want to take an unpalatable gel. Experiment with different flavors, as different people have different tastes, and what flavor appeals can vary with circumstance. I add some comments around taste, including sweetness, bitterness, sourness and if the overall flavor is like candy or like fruit. Strong sour (acidic) flavors may help with [[Cramps]]. Genetics also influences taste, so such as the [ ability to detect some bitter flavors].
This table is a combination of the science of nutrition, personal experience and the experience of many runners I've talked to, with more details given below.
{| class="wikitable sortable"! class="unsortable" | Name! Calories! Carbs(grams)! Sugar<sup>d</sup>(grams)! [[Maltodextrin]]<sup>a</sup>(grams)! Glucose<sup>a</sup>(grams)! [[Fructose]]<sup>a</sup>(grams)! Other Carbs<sup>1</sup>(grams)! [[Protein| Protein]](grams)! Fat(grams)! Sodium(mg)! [[Potassium]](mg)! class="unsortable" | [[Caffeine]](mg)! Water tobe Isotonic<sup>e</sup>(ml)! Weight<sup>f</sup>(grams)! Carbs/g! Cal/g! Ease {:Comparison of digestion(higher is better)! Viscosity<sup>i</sup>! class="unsortable" | Recommended for|-| [ Hammer Gel]| 90| 23| 2| 21| 1| 1| 0| 0| 0| 20| 0| 0/25/50| 103| 33| 0.70| 2.73| 10| 38| Sensitive Stomachs|-| [ SIS Isotonic]| 86| 22| 0.6| 21.4| 0.6| 0| 0| 0| 0| 10| 0| 0| 47| 60| 0.37| 1.43| 10| 1| Light, easy to digest, but big|-| [ Carb BOOM]| 110| 27| 3| 24| 1.5| 1.5| 0| 0| 0| 50| 50| 0/50| 145| 41| 0.66| 2.68| 9| 16| Hammer Alternative|-| [ Gu]| 100| 25| 5| 20| 0| 5| 0| 0| 0<sup>h</sup>| 50| 40| 0/25/50| 175| 32| 0.78| 3.13| 8| 245| General Use|-| [ Gu Roctane]| 100| 25| 5| 20| 0| 5| 0| 1.7| 0| 125| 55| 0/35| 164| 32| 0.63| 3.13| 8| 62| Those looking for every advantage|-| [ Peanut Butter Gu]| 100| 20| 5| 15| 0| 5| 0| 1| 1.5| 65| 60| 0| 201| 32| 0.78| 3.13| 7| 4,290| A less sweet Gu|-| [ VFuel]| 100| 23| 6| 17| 6| 0| 0| 0| 1| 10| 15| 10| 168| 32| 0.72| 3.13| 7| 17| [[Fructose]] malabsorption|-| [ Clif Shot] (new formula)| 100| 24| 12| 12| 6| 6| 0| 0| 0<sup>g</sup>| 90| 50| 0/25/50/100| 292| 34| 0.71| 2.94| 6| 96| A Gu Alternative|-| [ USN Vooma Energy]| 100| 23.8| 7.9| 15.9| 5.4| 2.5| 0| 0| 0| 100| 50| 30| 228| 36| 0.66| 2.78| 6| 2| A Gu Alternative|-| [ PowerBar Gel]| 110| 27| 10| 17| 0| 10| 0| 0| 0<sup>g</sup>| 200| 20| 0/25/50| 293| 41| 0.66| 2.68| 5| 5| Those needing extra electrolytes|-| eGel| 150| 37| 7| 30| 0| 7| 0| 0| 0| 230| 85| 0| 295| 55| 0.67| 2.73| 5| 20| A PowerBar Gel Alternative, sour flavor might help with [[Cramps]]|-| [ High5 EnergyGel]| 92| 23| 3| 20| 2| 1| 0| 0| 0| 20| 0| 0| 122| 30| 0.77| 3.07| 5| 0| A less sweet Gu Alternative|-| [ ISOStar]| 112| 28| 15.8| 12.2| 15.8| 0| 0| 0| 0| 80| 0| 0| 357| 35| 0.80| 3.20| 4| 11| Not Recommended|-| [ Accel Gel]| 100| 20| 13| 7| 4| 9| 0| 5| 0| 115| 30| 0/20| 297| 37| 0.54| 2.70| 4| 32| Improved Recovery and Ultradistances|-| [ Island Boost]| 70| 16| 16| 0| 16| 8| 0| 0| 0| 50| 65| 0| 311| 34| 0.47| 2.06| 3| 0| Not recommended|-| [ Huma Chia] | 100| 22| 18| 0| 12.6| 5.4| 3| 1| 1| 105| 30| 0| 356| 46| 0.48| 2.17| 3| 16| Not recommended|-| [ Honey Stinger]| 120| 29| 29| 0| 14| 15| 0| 0| 0| 50| 85| 0/32| 572| 37| 0.78| 3.24| 2| 12| Not Recommended|-| [ Chocolate #9]| 70| 15| 13| 0| 3| 10<sup>b</sup>| 2| 1| 1| 75| 0| 0| 256| 30 | 0.50| 2.33| 2| 100,000+| Not Generally Recommended|-| [ 2nd Surge]| 90| 18| 13| 0| 7<sup>c</sup>| 6<sup>c</sup>| 5<sup>c</sup>| 3| 0| 115| 15| 100| 274| 30| 0.60| 3.00| 0| 9| Not Recommended|-| [ Chia Surge]| 75| 17| 11| 6| 11| 0| 0| 0| 1| 4| 26| 0| 215| 37| 0.46| 2.03| 0| 335| Not Recommended|table}}
* Sodium, Potassium, and [[Caffeine]] are in mg, water is in ml, everything else is in grams.
* <sup>a</sup> These values are estimates based on the stated nutrition and ingredients.
* <sup>b</sup>Agave nectar varies in its [[Fructose]] content between 90% and 55%, so this calculation assumes the average of about 75%.
* <sup>g</sup>The chocolate flavor has 1.5g
* <sup>h</sup>The chocolate flavor has 2g
* <sup>I</sup>Viscosity, or thickness, varies enormously between gels. The thickest, Chocolate #9 is more like a paste than a gel, were while the thinnest, PowerBar Gel is a liquid.
* <sup>k</sup>It's hard to estimate the ratio of fructose to glucose in Huma. I've assumed a 1:1:1 ratio of fruit, sugar, & brown rice syrup. The Fruit is about 40% glucose, sugar is 50% and brown rice syrup is 100%, giving about 30% fructose.
* <sup>l</sup>The figures for the Zipvit are estimates from the ingredients and nutritional information.
=Visual Comparison=
{| class="wikitable"
|- valign="top"
|[[File:Gel Colors.jpg|none|thumb|x300px|From the top, clockwise are Gu, eGel, #9 chocolate, and Chia Surge. The Gu is representative of how the other not shown here look out of the packet. The unusual gels are eGel which is colored, chocolate #9 which is paste like, and Chia Surge that has bitty seeds in it.]]
|[[File:Gels.jpg|none|thumb|x300px|Here the comparative the sizes of some of the gels.]]
=Hammer Gel=
[ Hammer Gel] is noteworthy as one of the easiest to digest gels. It is nearly all [[Maltodextrin]] dissolved in a greater volume of fluid than other gels. The low level of sugars and electrolytes makes this far easier on the digestive system, and is recommended for runners who have issues with other types of gel. There is less [[Fructose]], which makes the maximum carbohydrate absorption rate lower than other gels, so only use Hammer only if Gu is difficult to digest.
''<br/>Ingredients (Vanilla): [[Maltodextrin]], Filtered Water, Energy Smart (Grape juice and Rice dextrins), [[Potassium]] Sorbate (as a preservative), Vanilla Extract, Citric Acid, [[Potassium]] Chloride, Salt, Amino Acids (L-Leucine, L-Alanine, L-Valine, L-Isoleucine).''
=SIS GO Isotonic=
This [ SIS GO Isotonic gel] is rather different to most others on the market, and in many ways it's more of a small drink than a gel. The packet is roughly twice as big as most standard gels, which makes it awkward to carry. The flavor is extremely light and I would almost describe it as bland. This is a gel that's worth considering if you're having problems digesting more mainstream gels or if you want something with little or no flavor, and you don't mind carrying the bulk. (Note that [ this gel is much easier to find in Europe].)
[[File:Gels-SIS.JPG|none|thumb|500px|SIS GO Isotonic (with a Gu as a size reference)]]
''<br/>Ingredients (Orange): Water, Maltodextrin, Natural Flavoring, Gelling Agents (XanthanGum, Gellan Gum), Acidity Regulators(Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate),Preservatives (Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate), Sweetener (AcesulfameK), Sodium Chloride, Antioxidant (Ascorbic Acid), Color (Beta-Carotene.''
=Carb BOOM=
[ Carb BOOM] is similar to Hammer Gel, with a lot of [[Maltodextrin]] and a little bit of fruit. Each packet of Carb BOOM is about 25% larger than Hammer Gel, but contains similar ingredients (slightly more electrolytes). The flavors are a little more like real fruit than the candy flavor of many gels. [[File:Gels-CarbBoom.JPG|none|thumb|500px|CarbBoom (with a Gu as a size reference)]]''<br/br>Ingredients (Apple Cinnamon): [[Maltodextrin]], Water, Apple Puree, Apple Concentrate, Citric Acid, [[Potassium]] Citrate, Sea Salt, Cinnamon, [[Potassium]] Sorbate and Sodium Benzoate.''
For marathon distance racing, I prefer [ Gu] over all other gels I've tried. You could think of Gu as the Honda Civic of energy gels; it's not perfect for everyone in every situation, but it's a great all-rounder. It contains 5g of [[Fructose]], with the rest of the calories coming from the easily digested [[Maltodextrin]]. Like many other gels, I find that Gu can be consumed without any extra water as long as it is taken a bit at a time and [[How to eat a Gel| mixed with saliva]]. Some of the flavors can be a little strong and candy like, but the 'plain' Gu has a light cola flavor. Gu is slightly thicker than other gels, which I find makes it easier to mix the gel with saliva, but it can become overly thick in colder (freezing) conditions. (Note that the chocolate flavor has 2g of fat.)[[File:Gels-Gu.JPG|none|thumb|500px|Gu (old and new package)]]
''<br/>Ingredients (Vanilla): [[Maltodextrin]], water, [[Fructose]], Gu Amino acids (leucine, valine, histidine, isoleucine), [[Potassium|potassium]] and sodium citrate, antioxidants (vitamin E and C),citric acid, calcium carbonate, vanilla, sea salt, preservatives (sodium benzoate, [[Potassium|potassium]] sorbate), fumaric acid, herbal blend (chamomile, kola nut, ginger), pectin.''
=Gu Roctane=
[ Roctane] is a more expensive variant on Gu, though the price has reduced significantly since its introduction. The main difference is the addition of 1.7g of amino acids, which may help slightly. Roctane is not as thick as the standard Gu. I've not noticed any difference when using it, but if you like Gu and are looking for even a slight advantage, it may be worthwhile. If you are paying hundreds of dollars for a race entry and travel, then the extra cost is minor. If you take 8 gels in a 4-hour marathon, Roctane only adds $4-5 to the cost of the race. Of course, you'll need to practice with Roctane in your training, so you'll have to factor that cost in as well.
[[File:Gels-Roctane.JPG|none|thumb|500px|Roctane Gu (with a normal Gu as a size reference)]]
''<br/>Ingredients (Blueberry flavor): [[Maltodextrin]], water, [[Fructose]], Roctane Amino acids (Histidine, Leucine, Valine, Isoleucine), Ornithine Alpha-ketoglutarate (OKG), sodium citrate, malic acid, citric acid, [[Potassium|potassium]] citrate, natural pomegranate flavor, natural berry flavor, calcium carbonate, sea salt, [[Caffeine]], sodium benzoate, [[Potassium|potassium]] sorbate.''
=Gu (Peanut Butter)=
The [ peanut butter flavored Gu] is different enough to justify its own entry. The peanut butter flavor is far less sweet than the regular Gu flavors, but if you like peanut butter it can be a lot more palatable. It also substitutes a little bit of fat and [[Protein]] for the carbohydrate, as well as having a tiny bit more sodium and [[Potassium]]. I find this flavor digests particularly well and I'd recommend trying get if you're a fan of peanut butter. Obviously, if you hate peanut butter or you have a peanut allergy this is not going to work for you. The Peanut Butter flavor is one of the thickest gels, and is quite a bit thicker than the other flavors of Gu. Even in warm conditions it tends to be a little too thick, and in cold conditions it can become bit like a chewy candy such as taffy, toffee, etc.
[[File:Gels-PB-Gu.JPG|none|thumb|500px|Peanut Butter Gu (with a normal Gu as a size reference)]]
''<br/>Ingredients: [[Maltodextrin]], water, [[Fructose]], Peanut butter (peanuts, salt), Gu Amino acids (leucine, valine, histidine, isoleucine), [[Potassium|potassium]] and sodium citrate, antioxidants (vitamin E and C), preservatives (sodium benzoate, [[Potassium|potassium]] sorbate), calcium carbonate, sea salt, fumaric acid, calcium chloride, pectin, citric acid, malic acid, herbal blend (chamomile, ginger).''
[ VFuel Gels] have no [[Fructose]], so it's ideal for those that suffer from [ fructose malabsorption]. It has a little fat in the form of [[MCT| Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT)]], as well as some Taurine, which I think are good things, but probably the amount is not significant enough to make much of a difference. Note that MCT can cause serious digestive problems, but probably not at these levels. There is a little [[Caffeine]], intended to increase the carbohydrate absorption rather than to improve performance. I found the VFuel very easy on the stomach and a worthy alternative to Hammer Gel. (Note VFuel was previously called Vi Endurance.)
''<br/>Ingredients (Vanilla): [[Maltodextrin]], water, dextrose, VFuel Endurance Formula (MCT Oil, Taurine, Glucuronolactone, ornithine alpha-ketoglutarate (OKG), citrulline malate, [[Magnesium]] aspartate, sodium citrate, [[Potassium|potassium]] aspartate), pure vanilla flavor, [[Potassium|potassium]] sorbate, sea salt, [[Caffeine]]''
=Clif Shot (new formula)=
The new formula [ Clif Shot] uses [[Maltodextrin]] like other Gels and is similar to Gu. However, it has slightly more sugar making it a little more difficult to digest. Clif Shots require about twice the water to be isotonic compared with Gu. One nice thing about Clif Shots is their 'litter leash', which is a thin strip that holds the top to the body of the packet so that you're less lightly to drop the top. I found in practice that I often break the leash when opening the gels, but the idea is a noble one. (Note that the chocolate flavor has 1.5g of fat.)[[File:Gels-Clif.JPG|none|thumb|500px|Clif Shot (old and new formula, and a Gu as a size reference)]]
''<br/>Ingredients (Vanilla): Organic [[Maltodextrin]], Organic Sugar, Water, Natural Flavor, Sea Salt, [[Potassium]] Citrate.''
=USN Vooma Energy=
[ USN Vooma Energy is a European Gel] has quite a strong flavor, but it is a soft, rounded flavor that I rather like. Vooma has a thinner consistency than most gels which makes it easy to swallow on the run. Overall, I've found myself looking forward to these gels more than most. The packets are also narrower and taller, which I found worked well, and made it easier to extract all the gel from the packet. (Note that this gel is generally only available in Europe.)
[[File:Gels-Vooma.JPG|none|thumb|500px|USN Vooma (with a Gu as a size reference)]]
''<br/>Ingredients (Vanilla Caramel): Water, Maltodextrin, Dextrose, Sucrose, Acidity regulators (Sodium Citrate E331i; Potassium citrate E332i), Creatine Monohydrate, Ascorbic Acid, L-Carnitine, Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)(L-Leucine, L-Valine, L-Isoleucine), Acidulant (Citric Acid), Sodium Chloride, Flavoring, Preservative (Potassium Sorbate), Glutamic Acid, Thickener (Xanthan Gum).`''
=PowerBar Gel=
[ PowerBar Gel] is noteworthy because of its higher sodium content that may help alleviate [[Hyponatremia]] and [[Cramps]]. I found the flavor stronger than Hammer, Gu or Cliff, but still quite pleasant. The flavors are generally rather more candy like than fruit like. The level of [[Fructose]] is higher than I'd like to see for digestibility. You may need to drink some water near the time you take PowerBar Gel due to the extra electrolytes. PowerBar Gel has a noticeably thinner consistency than most other gels, and is almost a liquid. This makes it far easier to take in cold weather as it does not go so thick, but it also make it trickier to mix with saliva in your mouth. (Note that the chocolate flavor has 1.5g of fat.)[[File:Gels-PowerBar.JPG|none|thumb|500px|PowerBar Gel (with a Gu as a size reference)]]
''<br/>Ingredients (vanilla): Carbohydrate blend ([[Maltodextrin]], [[Fructose]]), water, electrolytes (sodium chloride, sodium citrate, [[Potassium|potassium]] chloride), natural flavor, citric acid, sodium benzoate and [[Potassium|potassium]] sorbate.''
The main ingredients in eGel are close to Gu, which is no bad thing. The main differences are that eGel is twice the size of Gu, does not come in caffeinated varieties and has more electrolytes. While eGel has more electrolytes per packet than PowerBar Gel, if you take size into account then PowerBar Gel has the most concentrated electrolytes. The size of eGel may appeal to some people, but I generally find the usual size more convenient. The flavors of eGel are somewhat unusual in that they taste quite sour or 'tart', possibly because of the citric acid content. Flavor is a personal thing, so if you like sour, tart tastes, then you may get on well with eGel, but I found it overwhelming. However, it's possible that eGel may be acidic enough to help with [[Cramps| cramping]].
[[File:Gels-eGel.JPG|none|thumb|500px|eGel (with a Gu as a size reference)]]''<br/br>Ingredients (Mountain Rush): [[Maltodextrin]], Filtered Water, [[Fructose]], Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, [[Potassium]] Citrate, Natural Flavor, Amino Acid Blend (Leucine, Valine, Isoleucine, Histidine), Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Vitamin E (Tocopherol acetate), Sodium Benzoate And [[Potassium]] Sorbate, Vitamin B6''
=High5 EnergyGel=
This High5 gel has a slightly sweet taste with a mild orange flavor. This light flavor makes the gel worth considering if you want to avoid the sweeter flavors that are common in other gels. High5 has a very thin, almost a liquid consistency that makes it easy to take. This gel falls down because it has so little Fructose compared with competing gels, which reduces the rate of carbohydrate absorption. (Note that [ this gel is generally only available in Europe].)
[[File:Gels-High5.JPG|none|thumb|500px|High5 (with a Gu as a size reference)]]
''<br/>Ingredients (Orange): Glucose, Water, Maltodextrin, Fruit Juice (min 15%, Orange/Lemon),Sea Salt, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate''
=ISOStar Gel =
This gel contains a lot of sugar, making it a little slower to digest and requires a lot more water to be isotonic. I found the flavor rather too sweet, and while the sweetness was offset by a strong lemon sharpness, the overall taste was a little overpowering. They claim a "Cardio Pump vasodilator", but I didn't find any supporting scientific evidence, nor did I detect any unexpected performance change when I took this gel. (Note that ISOStar is a Finnish company, and [ this gel is generally only available in Europe].)
[[File:Gels-Isostar.JPG|none|thumb|500px|Isostar (with a Gu as a size reference)]]
''<br/>Ingredients (Lemon): Wheat glucose syrup, water, natural flavouring, CARBO PUMP complex (dry extracts of apples and grapes 0.22%, vitamins C and B1), Acidifier: citric acid, preservatives: potassium sorbate and sulphur dioxide.''
=Accel Gel=
I like the 4:1 carbohydrate to [[Protein]] ratio of [ Accel Gel], and I often use it in ultramarathon races. There is more sugar than I would like at 13g and combined with the protein, this gel is going to be harder to digest. The thin consistency makes it harder to eat slowly and mix with saliva. Consider this for recovery when there's not going to be anything else convenient, or for ultras in the 50 mile/100K range.[[File:Gels-Accel.JPG|none|thumb|500px|Accel (with a Gu as a size reference)]]
''<br/>Ingredients (Vanilla): Water, [[Fructose]], Sucrose, Whey [[Protein]] Isolate and Hydrolysate, [[Maltodextrin]], Glycerin, Natural Flavors, Salt, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin E Acetate, Soy Lecithin.''
=Island Boost=
Island Boost makes lots of claims that don't stand up to scrutiny. They claim that its glucose is "the fastest energy source", even though Maltodextrin is faster and their Fructose is quite slow. They imply you don't need to take water with their gel, even though the simple sugars need more water than a Maltodextrin based gel. You'll notice that Coconut Water is rather a long way down the ingredients list, below water, so you're getting less than 25% coconut water and possibly a lot less. The calorie density is quite low and the overall calories are low at 70 (passion fruit flavor only has 60 calories.) It's a liquid consistency, which makes it harder to eat slowly and mix with saliva. This is the only gel I've ever tried where tearing the top off didn't actually open the gel, which would be a problem in a race. The flavor is quite sweet, and more candy than fruit, but fairly light. Not a recommended gel.
[[File:Gels-IslandBoost.JPG|none|thumb|500px|Island Boost (with a Gu as a size reference)]]
''<br/>Ingredients (Chocolate):Glucose, [[Fructose]], Water, Coconut Water, Cocoa, Vanilla, Sodium, Potassium Sorbate, Calcium Sulfate.''
=Huma Chia Energy Gel=
[ Huma Chia] makes some bold claims about their gel, but the reality does not match the promise. Huma prominently use Chia seeds, but Ground Chia Seeds are far down the ingredients list indicating they are only present in smaller amounts. From the nutrition data I'd estimate that you're only getting about 2-3g of Chia seeds in each gel. The texture is slightly course due to the seeds, which is why I guess they didn't put more in. However, it's nothing like the problems I found with "Chia Surge' that contains the whole seeds rather than grinding them up. The main ingredients in Huma are fruit puree, table sugar and brown rice syrup, all providing simple sugars. This is the same brown rice syrup that gave Clif Shots such a bad name before they changed their formula. Brown Rice Syrup has a bitter aftertaste and unfortunately may contain [ arsenic]. Huma claims "100% natural", but I'm not sure I would call brown rice syrup "natural" given how it's processed with enzymes. The flavor is quite strong, and a balance of sweet, bitter and sour (tart). Huma is not as sour as eGel, but it's noticeable and probably comes from the citric acid. However, I found the bitterness of the brown rice syrup quite noticeable and unpleasant, with a bitter aftertaste that lasts for miles. The flavor is more fruit than candy, but it's not a taste I would look forward to. While I'm a fan of Chia seeds in general, I don't think this gel works and I don't recommend it.
[[File:Gels-Huma.JPG|none|thumb|500px|Huma Chia (with a Gu as a size reference)]]
''<br/>Ingredients (Strawberry): Strawberry Puree, table sugar, water, brown rice syrup, ground chia seeds, sea salt, citric acid.''
=Honey Stinger=
Honey contains only simple sugars rather than the more quickly and easily digested [[Maltodextrin]] that other Gels use. This means [ Honey Stinger] requires nearly 6x the water to be isotonic compared with Hammer gel. In fact, you need over a pint of water (500+ ml) to be isotonic, which is generally impractical. . This is the one of the few Gels I've tried that has given me digestive problems when taken slowly. I also found the sweetness overpowering and unpleasant, though the honey aftertaste was quite nice. I would not recommend Honey Stinger Gels.
[[File:Gels-Honey-Stinger.JPG|none|thumb|500px|Honey Stinger (with a Gu as a size reference)]]
''<br/>Ingredients (Gold flavor): Honey, Water, [[Potassium]] Citrate, Salt, Natural Flavors, Vitamins & Minerals, Niacinamide (Vit B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vit B5), Pyridoxine, Hydrochloride (Vit B6), Riboflavin (Vit B2), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vit B1), Cyanocobalamin (Vit B12)''
=Zipvit ZV7=
ZV7 is a larger gel, and as you can see from the picture below, it's about twice the size of a Gu. I much prefer the smaller size of the Gu (and similar gels) as it gives me the freedom of taking one or two gels as needed. The flavors of ZV7 seem enticing, but in practice I found they did not live up to the promise. The flavors I tried ended up being overly sweet, but the flavoring was a little thin. There's also a lot of sugar in ZV7, which makes it harder to digest than the better Gels. In fact, my estimate is that you'd need to take about a pint (half liter) of water with a packet of ZV7 to make it isotonic.
[[File:Gels-ZVZ7.JPG|none|thumb|500px|Zipvit ZV7 (with a Gu as a size reference)]]
''</br>Ingredients: Water, Maltodextrin, Sucrose, Glucose Syrup, Citric Acid, Natural Flavor, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Chloride.''
=#9 Chocolate=
The only ingredients in this [ #9] are Agave and Cocoa, and Agave is predominantly [[Fructose]] (55% [[Fructose]] to 20% glucose). This amount of [[Fructose]] is slow to be absorbed and can be difficult to digest, making it a poor choice for most runners. The Agave makes this gel intensely sweet, which I did not like and the '[ processed with alkali]' means that most of the antioxidants from the chocolate are destroyed. This is also by far the thickest gel that I've tested so far, being more like a paste than a gel. This gel may be suitable for runners that suffer from a blood sugar drop after taking more conventional gels prior to exercise (see [[The Science of Energy Gels| The Science of Energy Gels]] for more details).
''<br/>Ingredients: organic agave nectar, cocoa processed with alkali''
=Mud Energy Gel=
There are some unusual ingredients in Mud Energy Gel, including rather more protein than any other energy gel. The form of the protein is also a little strange, which is from Collagen, whey protein and brown rice protein. While whey protein is common in sports foods, collagen is rather unusual, and brown rice protein seems an even stranger choice. The gel includes [ Sustamine], a combination two amino acids to form L-Alanyl-L-Glutamine. There are some bold claims for Sustamine, but I couldn't find the research to back it up. The inclusion of Brown Rice syrup can create a bitter aftertaste, as well as possible contamination with [ arsenic]. This gel is also rather large, coming in at about twice the size of a Gu or other gel, but it's only got about 50% more calories, making it too large for runners. Overall, the digestibility of Mud Energy Gel is a little poor, but I found the flavor to be a bigger problem. I realize that flavor is a personal thing, so I tried a sample of Mud on several people and it was met with universal distaste, and some people even thought I was playing a prank on them. The only thing I've found that has a similar flavor has been some "[ salty licorice]". However, it's been noted that salty licorice is an acquired taste, and that people not familiar with it may find the taste "physically overwhelming and unlikeable." So maybe with more exposure, the flavor becomes better.
[[File:Gels-Mud.JPG|none|thumb|500px|Mud Engery Gel (with a Gu as a size reference)]]
''<br/>Ingredients: Coconut Water, Sweet Ground Chocolate (sugar, cocoa, chocolate liquor, vanilla), organic sugar, organic brown rice syrup, water, sea mineral concentrate, cultured sugar, xanthan gum. ''
=2nd Surge=
The ingredients in [ 2nd Surge] are rather grim, with Agave providing [[Fructose]] and Brown Rice Syrup providing glucose (as disaccharides and trisaccharides). While this may sound better than simply using all sugar, it's chemically not an improvement, especially as Brown Rice Syrup has a bitter aftertaste and unfortunately may contain [ arsenic]. I found that 2<sup>nd</sup> surge was overly sweet, with a slightly bitter undertones and rather gritty in texture. 2<sup>nd</sup> Surge has a higher dose of [[Caffeine]] than most gels. It's unlikely that you'd want to take a 2<sup>nd</sup> surge every 30 minutes, but if you did, you'd have 800mg of [[Caffeine]] during a four hour marathon, which is rather high. (For a 150 pound/75Kg person, that would be nearly 11mg/Kg, far more than seems prudent.) The ratio of carbohydrate to [[Protein]] can have some benefits, but it's a 6:1 ratio, rather than 4:1 which the manufacturer claims is ideal in their Accel Gel. Overall, there seems nothing to recommend these gels.
=Chia Surge=
[ Chia surge] is one of the more unusual gels as it contains chia seeds which give it a bitty texture. I found that these seeds got caught in my teeth, even when I tried to swallow without chewing or mixing with saliva, which was amazingly annoying. Chia surge also has relatively few calories, too much glucose, not enough [[Maltodextrin]] and almost no sodium. Chia Surge contains beta-Alanine which has been shown to improve sprint performance, though you'd likely need to take 4-12 packets a day for some days to see the benefit (see [[The Science of Energy Gels]] for more details). Overall it's hard to recommend Chia Surge.
[[File:Gels-Chia-Surge.JPG|none|thumb|500px|Chia Surge (with a Gu as a size reference)]]''<br/br>Ingredients(Raspberry): Water, Dextrose, [[Maltodextrin]], Citric Acid, Fruit And Vegetable Juice (For Color), Natural Flavors, ULS (Organic Cane Sugar, Natural Flavors, Stevia).''
[[File:Chia Surge.jpg|none|thumb|200px|Here you can see the seeds in the Chia Surge.]]
=Zipvit ZV7N=
This is an unusual gel because it contains [[Beetroot and Running Performance |Beetroot Juice]], which may improve performance. This is a cool idea, especially for longer events where a boost in Nitrate levels might be helpful. However, even though I love the taste of beetroot as a vegetable, I find the taste of the gel to be a little nauseating and I've been unable to consume an entire packet. However, if you can cope with the flavor, then this is well worth considering.
[[File:Gels-ZV7N.JPG|none|thumb|500px|ZV7N (with a Gu as a size reference)]]
''</br>Ingredients: Water, Beetroot Juice Concentrate, Maltodextrin, Sucrose, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid, Natural Flavor.''
=Other 'energy gels'=
While these products look rather like energy gels, they don't meet my criteria for inclusion but are worth mentioning.
Unlike energy gels, [ PocketFuel] is a peanut butter like paste in an energy gel like packet. They are similar a little larger than most other gels (about 1.8oz/52g) but have far more calories (~280) due to their higher fat content. (Be careful of the nutrition label, which quotes values for a 32 gram serving, even though the packet contains 52g. The label says each packet contains "about 2" servings, but is actually 1.6 servings.) I would not generally recommend PocketFuel for runs shorter than about 40 miles, but for longer races they make a convenient form of food. Note that for some flavors the ingredients tend to settle and it's worth squishing the packet before your run to mix things up.
[[File:Gels-Pocket-Fuel.JPG|none|thumb|500px|Pocket Fuel (with a Gu as a size reference)]]
''<br/>Ingredients (chocolate haze):Hazelnuts, almonds, sugar, cocoa powder, sunflower oil, organic palm fruit oil, sea salt.''
==PowerBar Performance Energy Blend==
[ PowerBar Performance Energy Blend] (PEB) almost made it into my list of gels. It looks like a large energy gel, with a re-closable a screw top. It's actually about three times the size and weight of a standard gel like Gu, even though it contains less calories (80 Cal). The reason for the low energy density is that it's a mixture of fruit puree and glucose. If you've ever eaten apple puree, you'll know what PEB is like. I found PEB to quite pleasant, but the size and lack of calories means it's impractical to carry enough while running.
[[File:Gels-PowerBar-Fruit.JPG|none|thumb|500px|PowerBar PEB (with a Gu as a size reference)]]
==PocketFuel Energy Shot==
[ PocketFuel Energy Shots] are not energy gels in the usual sense, but rather concentrated coffee. Each packet contains about the same amount of coffee as about 5.6oz of standard filter coffee (70mg), plus a little sugar, coconut milk, and tapioca to form a gel. If you like coffee, you'll probably like these gels, and it's a convenient way of getting your coffee. It's not quite as convenient as other gel packets, as it does not narrow at the top, making it a little trickier to consume than usual gels. Remember that while [[Caffeine]] has been clearly shown to improve performance, [[Caffeine#Coffee and Performance| when caffeine is taken in coffee, the research suggests that the benefits are lost]].
[[File:Gels-Energy-Shot.JPG|none|thumb|500px|PocketFuel Energy (with a Gu as a size reference)]]
==Vespa ==
{{Main|Vespa Gel}}
[[Vespa Gel| Vespa]] claims to improve endurance performance by improving fat burning rather than providing fuel like other gels. The science does not seem to back this up, and they are remarkably expensive ($6.75 each).
[[File:Gels-Vespa.JPG|none|thumb|500px|Vespa (with a Gu as a size reference)]]
=Chewable Carbohydrates=
An alternative to energy gels is the solid blocks of carbohydrate, such as Clif Bloks, or Gu Chomps. I don't generally recommend these alternatives for a number of reasons. The biggest problem is that it's harder to chew a block than to swallow a gel while running, especially if you're [[Breathing]] hard. A mistake can result in choking, which will really upset your running. The ingredients in the chewables are not as good as the gels – the primary ingredient in Clif Bloks is brown rice syrup and Gu Chomps use Tapioca Syrup. Sport Beans may be more convenient than the Clif Bloks or Gu Chomps but are nearly all sugar rather than the more easily digested [[Maltodextrin]].